Kal Naismith helped Portsmouth return to winning ways from the bench, scoring a superb free kick to beat Grimsby 1-0 away from home. S&C football correspondent Ben Williets reports.
Despite the defeat against Stevenage, Paul Cook opted to field the same starting 11 for the Grimsby match. Michael Smith looked to continue his excellent form as Conor Chaplin remained on the bench.
Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was beautifully carried out in memory of the tragic Chapecoense air disaster which occurred just days before the match.
Pompey started the game in dominating fashion but failed to carve any clear-cut chances. Kyle Bennett was the stand out performer in the opening stages, looking lively from the start.
The first half was a string of half-chances, predominantly for Portsmouth, however the deadlock could not be broken. Without capturing the imagination, the first half came to a close with the scores level at 0-0.
Similarly to the first half, Portsmouth started the second on top. The Grimsby ‘keeper did well to keep out a number of chances for the Blues, and it seemed as if it was going to be a tough away trip for Portsmouth.
With 15 minutes to go, Cook brought Chaplin and Naismith on, clearing showing his attacking intent. However, Grimsby started to create more chances, and suddenly Portsmouth had to do a considerable amount more defending.
Only four minutes were left though when Baker was fouled 25 yards from goal. Naismith took the responsibility of taking the free kick in his stride, beautifully curling the ball in to the top corner, much to the away fans’ delight.
The Blues were resilient throughout the closing stages and hampered all chance of a Grimsby equaliser. After five minutes of stoppage time was up, Pompey could celebrate a priceless victory, keeping them within touching distance of the top three.
Portsmouth played at home to Hartlepool last weekend, drawing 0-0 and return to play Newport County on Boxing Day.